You are here

Never Knowing Why: An exhibition at the University's Waterfront Gallery

17 Jan 2017 4:45PM

A Senior Visiting Fellow in Fine Art at the University of Suffolk has opened his exhibition, Never Knowing Why, in the Waterfront Gallery.

Robert Priseman is a painter, curator and writer. Over 200 works of art by Robert are held in art museum collections around the world including the V&A. He has spent the past decade exploring the darker side of human nature in an effort to expose its gentler and more understanding heart. Believing that fundamentally we are all kind and share a desire to help each other, the thought that we can also be cruel, destructive and vindictive is a great mystery to him. Fuelled by the desire to understand what motivates us to behave in the ways we do Robert has tackled subjects in his paintings as wide ranging as the Holocaust, suicide and civil war. Building on a previous series Robert presents a selection of new works looking at the phenomena of high school shootings in the USA. 

Robert says "I am a Senior Visiting Fellow in Fine Art of the University of Suffolk and over the past few years we have enjoyed a happy and fruitful period working together on some exciting projects. These have included the development and display of the 'East Contemporary Art Collection' in 2013, the curation and exhibition 'Contemporary Chinese Works on Paper' of 2016 and the recent help with selection and display of the beautiful and inspiring 'Association of Suffolk Art Teachers Exhibition'. It is therefore a great pleasure and honour for me to have a chance to show some of my own painting and drawing with people I enjoy working with so much."

Robert adds “This exhibition, Never Knowing Why, consists of three sections. The first comprises seven portraits of Dylan Klebold, each based on photographs taken of him at various stages of his childhood. Dylan was one of the two senior year students who carried out a rampage shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado on the 20th April 1999 and is one of the focuses of the exhibition. The second set of pictures is a group of nine drawings of the outsides of schools in the USA where students have carried out shootings, employing coloured crayons as a medium so that the pictures might resonate with the drawings children produce. The third part of the exhibition consists of five oil paintings which depict the insides of empty class rooms and school corridors where shootings have taken place. They are deliberately empty of people so that we might imagine ourselves standing in them, contemplating what has happened.”

“While there are no easy answers to such tragedies this exhibition aims to explore how they may develop. To this end this exhibition will provide as its centre point a space for reflection and support with this difficult subject matter including extensive resources looking at anti-bullying initiatives."

Carol Gant, Arts Curator said “The University’s gallery programme tackles worldly events and tragedies through art and the discussion. On first glance this exhibition appears calm and welcoming.

The large empty paintings concealing the true subject. It is only on closer inspection that the viewer begins to realise and understand the dark concept. Roberts’s ability to pose these challenging questions through his work promotes discussion and debate about this disturbing modern day phenomenon.”

Never Knowing Why is on display in the Waterfront Gallery until 24 February. Monday-Friday 9am-4pm and Saturday 10am-3pm.

Never Knowing Why: A lecture by Robert Priseman will take place at the University on Wednesday 18 January from 12-1pm. Visit for more information. 


University of Suffolk Press Office
T: 01473 338476